Warner blasts Panorama
FIFA vice-president Jack Warner has hit out at BBC Panorama's investigation into World Cup bidding by claiming it has been "deliberately designed to negatively impact" on England's chances of hosting the 2018 tournament.
Panorama are planning to screen a programme next Monday, three days before the vote, and have written to Warner as well as FIFA president Sepp Blatter asking for responses to a number of allegations. Warner, whose vote is crucial to England's hopes, has been targeted by Panorama in the past and claims he is the subject of "a personal vendetta".
He said in an email: "I am sure it's a personal vendetta. But it is sooooooooooo stupid... for it can have no effect on me personally or on anyone else in the FIFA for that matter. In my personal opinion, it is deliberately designed to negatively impact on England's chances."
He added: "It is just a rehash of the same (things) so I continue to sleep very soundly at nights."
England 2018 leaders last week branded the BBC "unpatriotic" for screening the investigation so close to the vote, fearing it will lead to a backlash from FIFA members.
BBC Panorama responded saying: "Panorama has a reputation for strong, independent and probing investigative journalism. The findings of the Panorama investigation into FIFA will be in the public interest."
The importance that England 2018 attach to Warner can be judged by the fact that Prime Minister David Cameron has invited him to lunch in Zurich ahead of the vote.
Warner is president of the CONCACAF federation and could deliver three of the 22 FIFA executive members' votes to England. He is also a government minister in Trinidad.
He said last week that he had still to decide which way he would vote but appeared to write off the chances of Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium, telling Cameron in a phonecall that Russia are England's main rivals.
"If he can overcome the Russian bid, which I think is gaining momentum, he doesn't have a problem," Warner told Trinidad newspaper Newsday. "I don't think he has to worry about the other countries too much."
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